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Social practice pioneer Harrell Fletcher to speak at Watkins

The noted Oregon-based, interdisciplinary artist Harrell Fletcher had originally intended to visit Nashville last year. His trip was postponed, but the local arts community’s interest in his socially-engaged projects never waned. Fletcher is now scheduled to appear at Watkins College of Art, Design and & Film on March 28. The college has issued the following release:

fletcherHarrell Fletcher, an artist who specializes in socially-engaged, interdisciplinary projects, will speak at Watkins College of Art, Design & Film on Thursday, March 28, as part of the school’s Visiting Artists Series.

After a reception beginning at 6 p.m., Fletcher will discuss his unconventional approach to art making at 6:30 p.m. in the Watkins Theater. The event is free and the public is invited.

Since the early 1990s, Fletcher has produced various collaborative, multimedia projects which frequently involve other artists and members of local communities. His work is often curatorial and interactive and, although it is typically playful, it almost always engages aspects of social and political life.

Over the years, his projects have ranged from an “alternative library” that he made while still an MFA student at California College of the Arts to a traveling exhibition of photographs he took at the War Remnants Museum in Ho Chi Minh City (entitled The American War). In 2004, his contribution to the Whitney Biennial included a publication featuring works by artists not invited to participate. In a 2002-2009 collaborative web project with the artist-filmmaker Miranda July, he solicited the broader public to submit responses to assignments like “repair something,” “heal yourself,” or “document your bald spot.”

Currently Associate Professor of Art and Social Practice at Portland State University in Portland, Oregon, Fletcher is a 2005 winner of the Alpert Award in the Arts, given to “creative experimenters who are challenging and transforming art, their respective disciplines, and society.” He has exhibited his projects at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, the Sculpture Center in New York, the Seattle Art Museum, the Royal College of Art in London, the National Gallery of Victoria in Melbourne, Australia, and other important venues. His work is in the collections of the New Museum, the Whitney Museum, and the Museum of Modern Art.

“Harrell Fletcher has broadened our understanding as to the importance of public interaction in the art world,” said Ron Lambert, assistant professor of fine art. “His work pioneers a practice of creating and exposing communities through a unique ability to leverage people, places and situations in ordinary contexts and making us aware of the richness that surrounds us on a daily basis.”

The Watkins Visiting Artists Series is an annual yearlong program that welcomes nationally and internationally recognized fine artists, designers, filmmakers, educators and critics to the campus and the community. The third season of the Watkins Visiting Artists Series kicked off in December with a presentation by video and performance artist Liz Magic Laser (New York’s Armory Show 2013 Artist Commission) and continued with a lecture by 3-D illustrator/animator Chris Sickels in conjunction with the Visiting Artist exhibition Illustration the Hard Way, now on view through April 4 in the Brownlee O. Currey, Jr. Gallery on campus.  The series will conclude with an April 16 lecture by photographer Deborah Luster.

Watkins is located at 2298 Rosa L. Parks Boulevard in MetroCenter; free parking is available in the campus lot.  For more information, visit www.watkins.edu or call 615-383-4848.

The Watkins Visiting Artists Series is made possible through a grant from the Memorial Foundation.

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